Last year’s hurricane season was the most disastrous the United States has ever experienced. Hurricanes in 2017 affected more than 25 million people—close to 8 percent of the U.S. population—and resulted in widespread displacement of survivors. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused $265 billion in damage, more than the 2005 hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma combined.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supported 12 major disaster declarations and 14 emergency declarations related to last year’s hurricane season. By the end of hurricane season on November 30, more than 4.7 million survivors had registered for FEMA disaster assistance, a number greater than for hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Sandy combined.
“This historic hurricane season should serve as a gut check and an opportunity for citizens, businesses, state, local, tribal and federal officials to re-evaluate how we prepare for and respond to any disaster.”
– FEMA Administrator Brock Long
What can we do to prepare?
As the subject matter expert that has authored the annual National Preparedness Report and State Preparedness Report since 2012 and continues to support every aspect of the federal government’s emergency preparedness system, Cadmus knows a few things about preparing for hurricanes and other natural disasters. With the Atlantic hurricane season beginning in June, individuals, businesses, and community members can take proactive steps to better prepare for hurricanes that may threaten our homes, workplaces, and communities. Here are five actions that FEMA recommends everyone take in advance of hurricane season:
- Get alerts and warnings to receive timely information about weather conditions or other emergencies. Download the FEMA App to learn what to do before, during, and after emergencies, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
- Create and practice a family communication plan. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated, and ensure everyone understands their role.
- Document and insure property before a disaster strikes to ensure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild, or replace whatever is damaged. Visit floodsmart.gov to learn about purchasing flood insurance.
- Strengthen your financial preparedness. Collect and secure personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records to give yourself the peace of mind and ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.
- Get trained. Every minute is important in a disaster, and if emergency responders are not nearby, you could be the one to help others until help arrives. Consider participating in a local or regional exercise—or even develop an exercise or simulation for your organization or community to help identify challenges and correct issues before they happen. Visit ready.gov/until-help-arrives for online training and to find out what role you can take during disasters.
From April 30–May 11, FEMA is leading National Level Exercise (NLE) 2018, a hurricane preparedness exercise to test and evaluate the level of readiness for the upcoming hurricane season. NLE will examine the ability of all levels of government, private industry, and nongovernmental organizations to protect against, respond to, and recover from a major mid-Atlantic hurricane. For more hurricane preparedness tips and information about NLE 2018, visit fema.gov/nle.